During the past 300 years, the design of the piano has been subject to constant experimentation and innovation.
Emanuel Moór (1863-1931) invented the double manual ‘duplex-coupler’ piano in 1920. Subsequently, the instrument had a brief vogue from the 1920s to the 1940s. At the time of its invention, it was passionately regarded as the next logical and exciting step in the development of the piano. During World War II, the factory in Berlin in which Moór’s action was manufactured was destroyed, ending the production of Moór’s remarkable and innovative mechanism.
The upper keyboard sounds an octave higher than the lower.
Moór’s action enables the player to execute several techniques that are not possible using a conventional piano keyboard:
Depressing the middle pedal couples the upper manual with the lower, allowing octave intervals to be played on single keys of the lower manual.
By playing on alternate keyboards, very wide intervallic leaps can be made with extreme rapidity and unfailing accuracy.
Chords can be created whose range and texture extend well beyond that available with the normal stretch of the hand.
Sliding the finger along the raised back edge of the lower manual keys enables a rapid chromatic glissando to be played. The chromatic nature and speed of this glissando cannot be achieved on a conventional piano keyboard.
Because the back edge of the lower manual naturals (‘white’ keys) is raised to the same height as the lower manual sharps (‘black’ keys), variation in the dynamic of the chromatic glissando can be achieved with astonishing ease.
Significant piano-making firms such as, for example, Bösendorfer (in Vienna) and Bechstein (in Berlin) built grand pianos containing Emanuel Moór’s double-manual action. Luminaries such as Egon Petri, György Sándor and Bruno Walter enthusiastically endorsed Moór’s invention.
This piano is one of a handful of double-manual Moór instruments in the world. In the early-1930s, the master-teacher and virtuoso Winifred Burston brought this rare and extraordinary piano to Australia from Berlin. This instrument entered the collection of the ANU Keyboard Institute in 2005, on loan from Larry Sitsky.